Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Up the Creek Tour....part 3

We awoke that morning with intentions of finding a farrier and getting settled into the next campground. French Creek here we come! Wanna know something else awesome that happened? George managed to throw another shoe in the middle of the night. Yep. His left rear fell off. FUN! This is the best trip ever! He was, at this point...SUPER lame. The poor guy had to stand on hard gravel all night in the corral, with 2 shoes and a buddy that kept picking on him all night for some reason. He was not having any of this Black Hills business.
But whateves! Off we go!
We headed to the next campground and noticed a dude ranch tourist trap that had a sign that said "Farrier on Duty" HECK YES! We pulled in and sure enough they had someone to put some shoes on George. He ended up replacing all but 1 of them on George, and then reset 2 on Duke. So far we had zero luck on the shoes. I felt like a giant ass for all of our shoe troubles. I mean wouldn't you? And since George wasn't pissed off enough.... he ended up kicking the farrier right in the leg. Nice.

We decided that we would just get settled into camp, and then head into Keystone, SD and do some touristy things. We had a sub par dinner and hit up all the shops and saw all the things. Early to bed that night.

We awoke bright and early and saddled up. We had talked to the neighbours from Michigan and they showed us the right trails. They did warn us that there were lots of water crossings. F-WORD. But I figured George needed to figure them out, so off we went.
French creek had the best trails by far. They weren't super challenging and the scenery was AMAZING.
Gross. why would you want to ride here ever.

No fear of bridges anymore.

When we got to the first water crossing George decided that his best plan of attack was "GO AS FAST AS YOU CAN!!!" The creeks were too big to leap across, so he figured that if he went fast, the water wouldn't sweep him away. Sure this was fine...but the creeks were super rocky. So my husband had visions of George breaking his legs so he kept yelling at me to hold him back. Easier said than done. At water crossing 20 he figured it out that creeks weren't that scary.
We had our best ride at French Creek. George really came around once he figured it out. I honestly want to go back. Other than beautiful riding....nothing really exciting happened. So I don't have as much to write about...just enjoy these pictures!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Up the creek tour...part 2

Well we were off like a herd of turtles in the am. Headed south to the Black Hills! I couldn't be more excited. Sad to leave the badlands, but ready for new adventures.
Our second campground was the Iron Creek Campgound. This was a primitive campground, surrounded by beauty. Breathtaking beauty that can't be captured in pictures, so I didn't take many...Once we got settled in to camp, and got the horses settled in. We went and met the neighbors, who happened to be from our neighboring state, Minnesota. And as expected...they were typical Minnesota Nice. So happy to be camping near real nice horse folks. Makes living arrangements so much better. They were 4 older couples and were all super, super nice.
We decided to go for a quick evening ride once we had supper. Holy Crap. That is the only 'G' rated phrase I can come up with to explain the trails out there. They were the most intense trails I have ever been on. I wasn't able to take many pictures because I was focused on not dying. Holy. Crap. We went up a natural staircase made of giant boulders at one point. I wish I could explain the sheer terror I had in my being. But George handled it like a champion. I gave him his head, and grabbed my horn, said a prayer and let him carry me up. It was intense but we got up. Once we were at the top we rode for a bit, and climbed some more really sketchy stuff and realized the sun was going down and soon it would be really dark. There is no way I was going DOWN that stuff in pitch black.... So we turned around, said another prayer and headed back down. The area has a lot of downed trees too due to disease and bug infestations so the downed trees and the signs warning that trees could fall at any moment really added to the terror.
But to be was a rush going on those trails! It was so much fun! If you aren't of the faint of heart, go ride out there! SO MUCH FUN!
Doesn't look so scary...LIES!!! IT WAS TERRIFYING!
THIS was the ride I didn't wear my helmet on...THIS of all rides.

Only one way down I guess...
The next day we woke bright and early, to beat the awful heat. Saddled up and talked to the neighbors who sent us down a trail that wasn't so scary. It wasn't as beautiful, but whateves...a good ride is a good ride right?
Beautiful riding ensued. The weather was still nice and the scenery was beautiful. Then we came to a creek. It was about 2 feet wide, and about 6 inches deep. Clearly George knew more than I did and decided that the best method of crossing said creek was to launch himself up and over the creek via path through a dead ever green tree...Thanks creep! (This was in's currently August and I have a massive scar on my arm as a souvenir)
Things were going well and we had ridden about 5 miles, the temperature was rising, and we were blocked by a bison sunning himself on the trail, so we decided to turn around and head for camp before we roasted to death or were gored to death by a hot pissed off bison.
La lala la la...happily riding down the trail. Wait a second...what is wrong with George? F-WORD!!! his right front shoe fell off!!! We were 4 miles from camp! It was 94 degrees! We were in the middle of no where! He could barely walk! There was no just grabbing a trailer and loading him up right there. I had to hoof it next to him until we could get to the road where the trailer could come pick us up.
Let me tell you, walking a hot, pissed off, LAME thoroughbred through some really rocky stuff is no walk in the park. Never in my life have I wanted to just curl up and die more than I did that day. I had run out of water, my riding boots were not built for hiking, the ground was rough, and hilly, and the worst ever. I just wanted death to come swiftly and take me away. My husband rode on ahead to go get the trailer. Sounds super douche-y to just leave me, but I told him to go. Also fun fact...the trail we were on was not super clearly marked so guess who got lost...yep! ME! I'm honestly not sure what got me back to the road. I was certain that I was actually dead and that vultures were circling above us. I threw up a few times along the trail too. Super fun...heat exhaustion. Just the cherry on the sundae of my adventure. But I found the road and waited for what felt like 27 days and sweet, sweet relief showed up, my husband rolled up with the trailer and a Gatorade which I inhaled like it was air. I felt like a dried sponge that was dropped into water...
Once we got to the campground I hopped into a cold shower and it felt amazing. I on the other hand...did not feel amazing. I felt like death still. As I got out of the shower, there was a knock on the door. One of our neighbors showed up with his wife. They both looked super concerned for my well being. Turns out the man was a medic! what are the odds right? He gave me strict orders to stay in the air conditioned trailer with my feet up for 3 hours. Not to drink water but drink as much Gatorade and Pedialyte as I possibly could. My husband had to leave his dying wife to go get our million dollar certified weed free hay since our horse were on their last flakes. FYI bring your own certified weed free hay to camp grounds that require it. We bought some $12 bales of the worst quality hay I've ever fed my horses. It was almost all just stems. When you pay $3.50 for a bale back home for great quality hay, you can see why it sucks to pay that much for gross hay.
Since we were in a primitive campground we had our trailer hooked up to a generator to run the AC...and the TV so I could watch Dances With Wolves (when in SD watch a movie about SD right?). I was finally starting to feel a bit better when everything shut down...I heard our super loud generator take it's last breath. So I climbed out of bed, opened to door to go figure it out and 3 of the neighbours came rushing over to help get it started again. They were seriously my guardian angels. You guys, I don't know what I would have done with out them. My poor husband was out getting hay and I was all alone, dying in the black hills when these angels showed up, and figured that the generator was low on oil. The got it running again and sent me back to rest.
Later that evening, when I was feeling better my husband and I went to go thank the neigbours again. Seriously they were amazing. Everyone was so happy that I was feeling better and one of the ladies gave me a bottle of wine to put on ice for when I was really feeling better. I mean who does that other than angels?
I slept well that night and knew that we were headed to our next destination in the am...

Monday, August 15, 2016

Up the creek tour. part 1.

After such a horrific spring. Things were looking better. The big grey thoroughbred and I had been getting miles under out belts and things were going good! HOORAY! We were prepping for our big adventure of the year. The Black Hills of South Dakota.
We went to the Black Hills Stock Show in Rapid City during the early part of the year. On the way home we stopped at a few spots to scout out camping accommodations. I was super excited. The black hills are so beautiful! This was going to be an intense trip. I couldn't wait! We planned and planned and as it ended up, we stayed at campgrounds that had 'Creek' in the name. Sully Creek, Iron Creek, French Creek, and finally Hay Creek, thus being dubbed the Up the Creek Tour.
My husband's grandfather was inducted into the ND Cowboy Hall of fame for modern day ranching in June, so we decided to plan our trip around the ceremony. The ND Cowboy Hall of Fame just so happens to be located in my most favorite place in the world, Medora, North Dakota! I've written before about riding in the Badlands and how beautiful it is. We didn't get as much riding in as I'd hoped. We had a lot of stuff to do with his family and I knew that we would have plenty of riding in the days ahead.

We were able to get a nice ride into town one day for lunch. This was George's redemption at being a creep the last time he tied to a railing at the restaurant in town. The previous year he spent most of the time acting like he had ADHD and insisted on dancing and fidgeting in addition to eating the railing on the deck. This time, he stood tied and acted like a normal horse. Thank the heavens!

I wish we could have spent more time riding out there, but I knew that we would be back for more in a few months. Over Labor day we spend a few days camping and riding with friends. So we were prepping to load up and go to the next destination when as I was stripping the stalls, I noticed a lone horse shoe in the corner. My husband's horse, Duke thew a shoe. Normally, we don't shoe Duke since he has fantastic feet, but since we were going to the Black Hills, we put shoes on all 4 corners of both horses because there is some really rough stuff out there. Everyone said to put shoes on. The thing is, I suck at locking down the farrier. Did I know I was going on a trip that required shoes? Yes. Did I go ahead an lock down a date with our farrier weeks in advance? Nope. Because I am an idiot. Recently our farrier has been so busy but in my stupid little brain, I keep thinking that she will just swing out at the drop of a hat like she has always done in the past. But I dropped the ball and I am the only one to blame. So a friend of mine who just graduated from farrier school said she could come out and tack some shoes on. She had been apprenticing with a great farrier and I trusted that she would do a good job. Her trims are phenomenal and the shoes looked great! So I figured we were good to go.
But when you are on the 'up the creek tour' things are gonna go wrong and wrong they did.
Well F-WORD, we are a billion miles from home and I have a horse with 3 shoes on and we were supposed to head out that afternoon.
Lucky for us, my husband's cousin was working in town and hooked us up with my knight in shining armor farrier. He saved me last year when I needed an emergency set of shoes tacked on Geroge in the Badlands. He is a gosh darn saint of a man. We called him up on a Sunday evening and drove out to his place and he was able to tack the shoe on, reset it and then look at George's feet to make sure they looked good. I also got to meet this sweet little mare...
I would have stolen her if she would have fit in my trailer.
So we thanked my knight in shining armor farrier a billion times and said that we'd probably be calling him when we were back in the area luck sucks. We were off like a herd of turtles.
Back to the camp ground for one more night and we loaded up and left in the morning. Stay tuned for more adventures on the Up the Creek Tour 2016.
I pulled George's hay net in preparation to leave...he grabbed the bale bag and helped himself...creep.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Rocky start.

So I said I was back and then I disappeared for 8 months. Because...well I don't know. It's not that I don't have anything to write about because I certainly do. I don't have a real excuse other than being too tired to really write anything. For all intents and purposes I really should be writing more, not that I expect anyone to follow this blog anymore, but as my own personal journal of what I have been up to.
I can honestly say this has been my best year with the big, grey thoroughbred. It didn't start out great. In fact this year was the closest I have ever been to getting rid of him completely. This spring started out horrifically. My first two attempts at riding him in April were heartbreaking. I say heartbreaking because my heart was broken knowing that it was probably best that I find him a new home. He was much too much horse for me and I was starting to believe that I was not the rider I thought I was. I always get nervous riding in the spring. North Dakota winters are cold, and I don't have access to indoor riding so basically Georgous sits at a round bale with his buddies getting fat. He loves it. I love watching him be fat and lazy. But spring comes, and it's time to ride and he is certain that he is in training for the Kentucky Derby.
That first attempt at a ride seemed like it was going well. I rode around the yard and he was nice and relaxed, so I told my husband that I was ready to go down the road. The ride was going well, and he was my same old sweet lazy pony. I thought "hey, maybe this year will be different than last year! Maybe he is growing up and we will have a great year!" no sooner did I finish that thought when he absolutely lost his damn mind. His head was flipped sideways, and he was basically licking his eye ball. He looked like a crazy horse. Like he lost his damn mind. I got freaked out based on the fact he was no longer listening to anything I had to say, and I hopped off. I started walking him in hand hoping that he would calm down. "NOT TODAY" he screamed! Well not screamed because well he is a horse, but he had that look on his stupid horse face. It was like I was flying a kite down the road. I've walked young thoroughbreds at the track that just finished their race and they have been less of a handful than he was at that moment. At this point I was crying. Big, sloppy ugly crying. I walked him half a mile then back home. He was pretty damn proud of himself. I felt like the biggest failure on earth.
The next time I attempted....same thing. Maybe even slightly worse. What happened to my horse? The same horse that went on awesome trail riding adventures with me? The lazy boy who was shocking everyone around us when they found out he was an ex racehorse because of how lazy he was on the trail. I was a failure and I was going to give up horses and riding forever. I was done. I put him away and locked myself in the bathroom and cried knowing that my husband wouldn't let me keep a horse I was too scared to ride. And I knew that I would never be able to ride him. He wasn't the horse for me. It was time to start looking for somewhere for him to go and I hated it. I hated myself. I hated George for not being Piney. I was miserable.
Flash forward a few weeks. We had sent Cash, our hot mess of a horse to the trainer. Cash has Navicular. He had been bucking at the lope last fall so we decided that he would go to the trainer this spring. We booked him a spot at the trainer we've had some great luck with. Prior to him going, we did a few chiropractic treatments with him, had him injected and put on his special shoes. We toted him up to the trainer and felt optimistic after we dropped him off. WELL, the trainer put 3 rides on him and then called my husband to let him know, that he was lame. Super lame. F-WORD!!! We talked to the trainer, and since we had a stall for a few more weeks, the husband and I decided that maybe George should go fill that stall. And fill that stall he did.
After the first ride, the trainer called my husband and said that he was not very optimistic about George ever being a trail horse. He did NOT like him. He really just didn't have anything nice to say about George and told my husband to maybe consider getting rid of him all together and finding something a bit slower. My heart was broken.
A week or so later the trainer called my husband with an update. "We finally got him to walk." apparently George had the need for speed and everyone was having a hell of a time just getting him to walk. In fact, I think they said at one point that George was terrifying because of how fast he was. George was also not a model student. He really made a name for himself at the barn. One day in his stall, he ripped down a sheet of plywood that made up the back wall. He also spent a few hours tied to the hitching post so he could learn some patience.... But they got him to walk calmly on the trail and they were going to keep working on him.
When George was ready to come home. I went to try him out with the trainer. I saddled him up and they sent us out the door on a little trail ride. He was still a bit hot, but he was walking 'calmish' and I was happy. So we brought him home and planned for his first test.... a trail riding weekend in one of my favorite places.

We ended up doing 20ish miles that weekend and other than a few 'melt downs' mostly over crossing bridges he did great. He was going to be a trail horse if it killed me.
That's a good boy!

This bridge tried to eat him the day before.